A New Defensive Alignment Has the Bears Targeting Different Types of Linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft

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A New Defensive Alignment Has the Bears Targeting Different Types of Linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft

Chicago Bears

The 2022 NFL Draft is fast approaching. And even though new GM Ryan Poles doesn’t have a first-round pick, he is set to usher in a new era of Bears football with Assistant GM Ian Cunningham, Head Coach Matt Eberflus, and a host of other newbies. Starting today, we’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.

Previous: Quarterbacks, Wide receivers, Offensive line, Running backs, Tight ends

Need: It’s gonna be a smidge higher if the Bears successfully trade Robert Quinn before (or during) the NFL Draft. Teams have been “sniffing around” a possible deal, even if the Bears aren’t openly shopping him.

Currently on the Roster (2021 PFF Grade):

Robert Quinn (69.9), Trevis Gipson (70.4), Al-Quadin Muhammad (64.6), Jeremiah Attaochu (62.0), Justin Jones (57.9), Khyiris Tonga (52.1), Angelo Blackson (50.8), Mario Edwards Jr. (50.4), Charles Snowden (56.7), Sam Kamara (56.6), Ledarius Mack (55.7), LaCale London (60.0)

BN’s Composite Ranking

Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, CBS Sports, and NFL dot com, and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top-10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.

Here’s how the defensive linemen stack up (points in parenthesis):

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

1.   Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan (40)
2.   Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon (36)
3.   Travon Walker, Georgia (27)
4.   George Karlaftis, Purdue (24)
5.   Jordan Davis, Georgia (24)
6.   Jermaine Johnson, Florida State (21)
7.   Devonte Wyatt, Georgia (15)
8.   David Ojabo, Michigan (11)
9.   Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State (10)
10.  Boye Mafe, Minnesota (7)

Also receiving Top-10 consideration: Travis Jones (UConn – PFF, ESPN), Logan Hall (Houston – CBS), Sam Williams (Ole Miss – NFL), DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M – NFL), Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati – CBS), Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma – PFF)

Team Fit

Unlike the Vic Fangio/Chuck Pagano/Sean Desai schemes, the new Bears defense isn’t predicated on pass-rushers bearing down from the outside. Instead, at the core of what this defense does is in the middle.

So when new Bears Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said this about the three-technique defensive tackle (via the Bears’ website) I took note:

“We want that guy to be athletic. We want that guy to be instinctive. We want that guy to be able to stay on his feet. When he gets a one-on-one, we want that guy to be able to beat his one-on-ones … That guy is one of the staples of the defense because one of the things that I do believe is a good defense is built through the middle, and that’s the middle part of our defense. That guy’s going to be a tremendous part of success of Chicago Bears football and, specifically, Chicago Bears defensive football”

If the Bears deal Quinn before (or during) the draft, finding a plug-and-play replacement might be challenging. However, Day 2 could be where Chicago unearths a DT anchor.

Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:

Choosing three players who project to be available when the Bears go on the clock with each of their picks.

Round 2, Pick 39: Arnold Ebiketie (Penn State), Josh Paschal (Kentucky), Boye Mafe (Minnesota)

Round 2, Pick 48: David Ojabo, Michigan (Michigan), Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina), Logan Hall (Houston)

Round 3, Pick 71: Cameron Thomas (San Diego State), Perrion Winfrey (Oklahoma), Phidarian Mathis (Alabama)

Round 5, Pick 150: Tyreke Smith (Ohio State), Eric Johnson (Missouri State), Thomas Booker (Stanford)

Round 6, Pick 186: Haskell Garrett (Ohio State), Christopher Allen (Alabama), Noah Ellis (Idaho)

Bears Connections…

•   Houston Cougars DL Logan Hall was in for a top-30 visit and could be the type of 3-technique defensive lineman the Bears target to anchor the middle of their defense.
•   Chicago has also made inquiries regarding defensive linemen from Missouri State (Eric Johnson) and Montana State (Daniel Hardy) because there’s nothing wrong with going the extra mile (even if that mile leads you into Montana and/or Missouri)

•   Top-30 visit: Esezi Otomewo (Minnesota), Joshua Black (Syracuse), Eric Johnson (Missouri State), Daniel Hardy (Montana State)
•   Senior Bowl visit: Haskell Garrett (Ohio State)
•   Pro Day: Damion Daniels (Nebraska), Charles Wiley (UTSA)
•   Unspecified visit: Cameron Thomas (San Diego State)

Zack Pearson of Bear Report does a tremendous job compiling Bears prospect visits. You can follow his work here.

If I Had to Pick One:

Even though needs on offense are so outlandishly obvious, the Bears shouldn’t ignore holes on defense. And if the front office truly wants to commit to winning in the trenches, then using one of the team’s three Day 2 picks on a potential plug-and-play 3-technique wouldn’t be the worst use of resources. With that in mind, perhaps Houston’s Logan Hall is the pick-to-click in this position group.

Hall, who was in for a visit with the Bears earlier in the pre-draft build-up, has freakish testing score:

And equally freaky tape:



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.